Irlene Sue Walker Gergens was born on August 4, 1948, in Twin Falls, Idaho, the third of four children born to Winnifred and Ira Walker. She left this life to fill the sweet air of Heaven with Aqua-Net on June 14, 2023.
Irlene spent her early life on the family’s farms near Buhl and Castleford. She became a self-taught artist and piano player from a young age, both skills she carried throughout her life. Irlene had a keen sense of listening to music notes by ear once and then playing it back almost perfectly every single time. Her talents were truly endless.
She graduated from Castleford High School in 1966, and while she was still young welcomed her daughter Heather to the world in 1968. Irlene then married the love of her life, James (Jim) Henry Gergens on April 5, 1969. Together they had two more children, Holly and James, before deciding that raising a bossy brunette followed by two redheads was more than enough for their sanity.
Irlene followed Jim to ranching jobs throughout Idaho and Nevada, where she cooked for all the cowboys and ranchers. Once they settled in Jerome, she waitressed for years at Cindy’s Restaurant and Jerome Cafe. She eventually moved on to her favorite career of all which lasted well over twenty years, working as a cashier at Smith’s Food & Drug in Burley. Most days there would be a line a mile long at her checkout stand with folks waiting just for her to assist them.
Irlene always took great pride in her appearance, possibly having every shade of beehive hairstyle imaginable. Her look was never complete without her meticulous makeup and jewelry. To this day, her family still has no clue what her natural hair color was, but we do know she kept it big because it was full of secrets.
Irlene always loved an adventure, especially with Jim. Together they loved to travel around Idaho to fish and camp, mostly at Redfish Lake. However, there was nothing more she loved in life than her grandkids. She spoiled them rotten! You could typically find her cooking huge meals for them, hosting movie nights with every kind of junk food she could buy, or curling her granddaughters’ hair and drawing perfectly rounded eyebrows on them to match her own. Shortly after the death of her beloved Jim in 2006, she retired from Smith’s and became a full-time grandma, showing up at every rodeo, football game, or cheer competition her grandkids had.
Irlene spent so much of her life giving to others and did it all with spunk and fire. She loved ABBA and could out-dance anyone - giving the song “Dancing Queen” a whole new meaning. That was her song! She had a zest for life and her energy was unmatchable, and sometimes questionable, as to what the heck she was adding to her morning coffee to make it all happen. Irlene loved Halloween and never failed to wow a crowd with her amazing handmade costumes year after year. Irlene had a quick wit and wasn’t afraid to tell you that you were acting “like a little pill”, but you best believe she would still cook you a pot of spaghetti and send you home with a bright pink lipstick kiss on the forehead anyway.
Irlene is preceded in death by her sweetheart, James Gergens; her eldest daughter, Heather Burns; granddaughter, McKenzie Burns; and countless other family members, including her parents; and big brother, Larry Walker.
She leaves behind a ton of knickknacks, rolls of undeveloped film, painted rocks, and pairs of high heels from the 70s, but also a family she loved dearly. This family includes her daughter, Holly (Steve) Carlson; son, James (Shawna) Gergens; grandchildren, Nicholas Burns, Sara (Colby) Firth, Amanda (Zach) White, Stephen (Ana) Carlson, and Danika Gergens; three - soon to be four - great-granddaughters; sisters, Elaine (Ron) Foukal and Lynn (Mike) Murphy; and many cousins, family, and friends whom she was always thinking about, including her “Smith’s Fam” who were always dear to her heart.
The family would like to express a special thank you to the staff of Heritage Assisted Living & Memory Care for their never-ending love and grace, with another huge thank you to the nursing team of Horizon Home Health & Hospice for their own love and dedication. Both teams provided amazing care for Irlene, even after her final moments in this life, and quickly became like family to both Irlene and her kids.
Memorial service will be held at 1:00 pm, Saturday, June 24, 2023, at Farnsworth Mortuary, 1343 S Lincoln Ave, Jerome.
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family on Irlene’s memorial webpage at www.farnsowrthmortuary.com.